Sunday, August 15, 2004

Truth, Science, & Reality

Al Gore has a review in the New York Times this week on Russ Gelbspan's new book on Global Warming.

Now, Global Warming may not be "your thing." I know we all adopt issues, and in a world where we are bombarded with information, we make conscious decisions about what we monitor, what we scrutinize, and what we filter out and ignore--not necessarily from lack of interest, but from a mental triage that prioritizes how much information and which topics we can accommodate.

Given that the C101 gang is headed for college, either this fall or shortly, I particularly implore you to follow the link and read this brief article, for 2 reasons.
  1. Global Warming isn't an obscure environmental theory. It is a real climate phenomenon, that is taking place right now. (It is probably responsible for all the rain this year, as those of you who are getting washed out of Richmond like I am this weekend can attest.) Global Warming is creating a new social-political problem: environmental refugees, flooded out of their homes because of melting icecaps raising sea levels. Global Warming is yet another fossil-fuel problem and political hot cake that our generation has inherited, that the Republicans are sweeping under the rug for the sake of their own oil profits, and that is growing more severe so quickly that we can not pretend to ignore it for much longer. We will be the ones that fix this mess, too. We need to know what we are dealing with.

  2. Unfortunately, our generation can no longer take "science" at face value. In the book, Gelbspan analyzes how "the media have been duped and intimidated by an aggressive and persistent campaign organized and financed by coal and oil companies." Lobbyists are now powerful enough to buy their own "scientific" (sic) studies:
    Gelbspan's first book, ''The Heat Is On'' (1997), remains the best, and virtually only, study of how the coal and oil industry has provided financing to a small group of contrarian scientists who began to make themselves available for mass media interviews as so-called skeptics on the subject of global warming. In fact, these scientists played a key role in Gelbspan's personal journey on this issue. When he got letters disputing the facts in his very first article, he was at first chastened -- until he realized the letters were merely citing the industry-funded scientists. He accuses this group of ''stealing our reality.''
I don't want my reality stolen and I believe that you don't, either. I suspect that your high school educations have not prepared you for the skepticism we need to discern between reality and the ersatz propaganda dished up by the GOP in the name of science.

So please, read Al Gore's review here, and steel yourself for life in a world where scientific facts are now up for sale.